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Man abducted by Turkish police in broad daylight in İstanbul, family claims

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The family of Gökhan Güneş, who has been missing since around noon on Wednesday, has alleged that he was abducted by police officers in İstanbul’s Başakşehir district, where he works as an electrician, the Etkin news agency (ETHA) reported on Thursday.

According to the report, Güneş went to the hospital on Wednesday morning and called his fiancée after he left, at 12:17 p.m., saying he was on his way to work. He also spoke on the phone with one of his coworkers later on and told him he was taking the bus to work.

“When they realized he wasn’t coming to work, his coworker called me to inform me. I got worried and tried to call but couldn’t reach him. After waiting for four or five hours before speaking to the authorities, thinking he might have had his phone stolen, we checked with police stations and hospitals but couldn’t find him,” Güneş’ sister Nurhayat told ETHA.

“We suspect he was abducted by the government [officials] because they did it before. He was briefly detained two years ago and the officers let us know about it a day after it happened. He has been followed and harassed from time to time. They attempted to abduct him before,” she added.

The family reportedly managed to acquire footage showing Gökhan’s abduction from a security camera near the construction site where he worked. In the footage, five people are seen forcing Gökhan into a car after he got off the bus at a station close to his workplace.

Gökhan’s father İbrahim Güneş told ETHA that although he gave the CD with the footage of his son’s abduction to the officers at the İkitelli Police Station in İstanbul, the officers did nothing about it, saying the officer who was working the case would be there the next morning and that they can’t look at the footage until then.

The video footage, in which the license plate of the car reportedly can’t be seen, was also handed over to a prosecutor by the family members, who are expected to make a press statement at the İstanbul branch of Turkey’s Human Rights Association (İHD) on Friday.

“Where is the government at times like these? Where’s my son? I know the police did it [abducted him]. I want them to give my son back. I fear for his life,” ETHA also quoted Gökhan’s mother Nazife Güneş as saying.

“Our client, who has been threatened by police several times before, was abducted … yesterday. We are asking the İstanbul Police Department: Where is Gökhan Güneş?” the Law Office of the Oppressed (EHB) on Thursday said in a tweet.

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, also a prominent human rights activist, tweeted a question as to Gökhan’s whereabouts to the Interior Ministry, İstanbul Governor’s Office and İstanbul Police Department.

“Abduction in İstanbul!!! Gökhan Güneş was forcibly taken near his workplace. … We ask: What’s happening? How many times has this happened [in Turkey] in broad daylight?” the MP tweeted.

A report recently drafted by Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, also a prominent human rights activist and deputy chair of the Human Rights Committee in parliament, showed that enforced disappearances, which were common in Turkey during the 1990s, made a reappearance following a failed coup in July 2016.

Dozens of people have reportedly been abducted by Turkish intelligence since 2016, with some 24 victims reporting, after they were found, that they were subjected to heavy torture during the time they were “missing.”

The victims of those enforced disappearance cases were mostly alleged followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group targeted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

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